In the first few months of each year, it seems like every design magazine publishes an article to declare a list of what will be ‘on trend’. These lists usually include a mix of colours to paint cupboards, materials we should be using, and overall design styles to emulate.
Why short-term trends are not relevant to Daedalian Glass Studios
I must confess, I do not really follow the ‘latest hot trends’ too closely as I do not see them as relevant to Daedalian Glass Studios. Our glass installations come with a 10-year guarantee as standard, and we can supply a 20-year underwriting upon request. Indeed, it is a regular occurrence for clients to call our studios more than a decade after the initial installation to request a minor repair to a damaged piece, or for additional panels to be manufactured to match the initial installation.
In the luxury market in which we exist, there is also a practical aspect to consider – a project’s lead-time will often outlive a trend. Whilst some trends seem to last for years (reeded glass for example) others come and go before most projects have even progressed from the strategic definition to the manufacturing and construction stages.
I see trends as relevant to manufacturers of goods which will both be replaced within a shorter timeframe naturally, and that do not have a long lead-time for production. For example, tableware and linens will wear out, become damaged, or break with regular use and need replacing just in time for the latest design trend.
Whilst I do not read the trends articles, I do listen to our clients and notice how their priorities when specifying a product shift over time. I am not talking about trends here, more a gradual shift in the attributes that are perceived by our customers as adding value to what we make for them.
Environmental Awareness and Sustainability
The single biggest change I am seeing in the luxury design industry right now is a growing awareness of environmental and sustainability considerations in the supply chain. Just prior to lockdown, I was at a design meeting with a high-end interior design firm and received the following feedback; “I love the designs that have sustainable qualities… many clients nowadays would rather have an imperfect, recycled, and sustainable item than a perfect piece with a high environmental footprint.”
These were not surprising or new words for me to hear. Another decorative interiors industry leader is currently designing two concept yachts that use only sustainable materials, and it is not just lip-service, they really do enforce this in their supply chain. Companies must show evidence of a published environmental and sustainability policy before even an introductory supplier meeting will be organised.
The Mass Market
Even in the mass-market sector, let’s not also forget the much-publicised news a couple of years ago that Ikea are trialling a furniture and kitchens loan policy in Switzerland. The brand claims it is to reduce the amount of waste that is heading to landfill due to ‘fast fashion’. Whilst I would like to believe that these changes are led by the companies’ moral compass (as they should be), I think it is more likely a realisation that their business model must adapt to a changing society, and an increasing rejection by consumers of fast, throwaway fashion trends.
UHNW Decision Making Factors
Of course, this is not true of all consumers. There will always be those who have an uncompromising expectation for the highest quality and craftsmanship available, and this will take precedent over any sustainability credentials that a company has. UHNW individuals are surrounded by the finest things in life, and they have a well-trained eye for details, so they are the most challenging (and most rewarding) clients to work for in this regard.
However, the decision-making process for UHNW purchase choices is not so black and white – it is multi-faceted. Whilst pride may seek out quality (I deserve to be surrounded by only the finest things), and guilt may seek out sustainability (I am lucky to be in this position in life and I should use my wealth to make responsible choices), there are many other emotional triggers.
A desire for acceptance is a huge motivation for purchasing choices (I will not buy from a company that receives negative press for it’s unsustainable and environmentally damaging production techniques). The decline of real furs in the fashion industry is a good example of this – and a warning that even if sustainable policies do not immediately generate sales, unsustainable policies may damage sales.
I am not calling sustainability the trend, because I do not think it is just a trend. I think it is a long-term change in consumer tastes that all businesses must embrace. A generation of high-net-worth millennials are emerging as a key consumer group that is shaping the future of the luxury market – and they are the ones who are here to stay.
– Joe Walmsley, Managing Director